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55th San Francisco International Film Festival @ BAM/PFA

Saturday, April 28, 2012
6:30 p.m. Smugglers' Songs
Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche (France, 2011)

(Les chants de Mandrin). Early on in this engaging historical drama, a marquis (played by the singularly droll Jacques Nolot) offers a peddler a carriage ride on a remote country road. After sizing up his benefactor, the peddler fights motion sickness to deliver his sales pitch: “I have here a few objects of wonder, pious images, pamphlets against men of the cloth, newspapers from Amsterdam and London, holy cards, quills, writing paper…” Indeed, subversion takes many forms in this unblushingly partisan film, set in eighteenth-century France three decades before the Revolution. Renowned smuggler Louis Mandrin, who campaigned against the unjust tax system of France’s ancien régime, has recently been tortured and executed. His defiance, however, lives on. An organized band of “Mandrins” guard an illegal market in the countryside, as the peddler touts “the sad life of Mandrin, songs in four volumes, a framework for the republic…” Smugglers’ Songs depicts, realistically yet with humor, the hardening resistance in the face of oppression, and the strong role literacy played in inciting social change. Director Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche himself plays the cannily compassionate outlaw leader, Belissard, whom Nolot’s rather scruffy marquis is intent on contacting; and Christian Milia-Darmezin is both funny and inspiring as the poor but proud purveyor of subversive literature.

—Pamela Troy

• Written by Ameur-Zaïmeche. Photographed by Irina Lubtchansky. With Jacques Nolot, Christian Milia- Darmezin, Kenji Levan, Ameur- Zaïmeche. (97 mins)

Tickets on sale March 30. Online tickets are available through the SFFS ticketing system. Follow the link below and select "buy tickets." BAM/PFA members receive a discount online by using a special promo code. If you are a member and did not receive the code by email, please call (510) 642-1412.

Buy Tickets

Advance tickets March 27–30. BAM/PFA members may purchase advance tickets online between March 27 and 30 by clicking the link below and entering a special promo code. If you are a member and did not receive the code by email, please call (510) 642-1412.

Purchase Advance Member Tickets